Is the NDIS promoting inclusion?

Graphic with four circles: one each for exclusion, separation, integration and inclusion.Emily Steel has written a thoughtful piece on how the intent of the National Disability Strategy has been left languishing while the NDIS receives all the attention. Her main point is that the processes and outcomes can end up working against inclusion and perpetuating segregation. She says, “But on its own, the NDIS … risks perpetuating segregation built on the perception that people with disability have ‘special needs’ that cannot be addressed in mainstream society.” The NDIS will only support a relatively small number of people with disability. So what can others expect if they do not qualify for NDIS support? Will the public and private sectors falsely believe that they no longer need to take responsibility for inclusion? All the more reason to support the push for universally designed environments, services, products and programs. You can go to LinkedIn for the full article by Emily. 

The graphic, found on Pinterest, neatly shows the concepts of exclusion, separation, integration and inclusion. It can be applied to any marginalised group of people.

Embracing diversity is good business

front cover of the report. Black background with a neon sign in red saying openThe Human Rights Commission’s latest report, Missing Out: The business case for customer diversity raises two questions: can organisations afford to ignore the diversity of their customer base? And, what impact will this have over time? The research used for the report shows that organisations that are inclusive enjoy repeat business from their diverse customer base and strong recommendations to others. 

According to the report, around 28% of complaints received by the Commission in 2015-16 alleged discrimination by businesses based on sex, age, race, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. The report does more than cite customer complaints, it provides a way forward for organisations that want to improve their approach beyond the legal compliance of discrimination laws. Organisations that have embraced diversity in their workforce are generally in a better position to consider diversity in their customer base. So it seems workforce diversity might be a good first step. You can see a related article on the BBC News website about disability being an emerging market not a niche market.

Editor’s note: I notice that the Commission’s report uses the term “organisations” rather than “businesses”. No doubt the not for profit sector has not been immune from complaints.

Prams versus wheelchairs: Who wins?

Bus driver helps woman with her wheelie walkerThis item comes from the UK and raises the issue here in Australia – what are the rules for pram users and wheelchair users, and also older people, when there is only one wheelchair bay on the bus? 

In Leeds, a wheelchair user boarded a bus, but a woman with a stroller was occupying the wheelchair bay. Complying with company policy, the driver asked her to move but she refused. The wheelchair user had to wait for the next bus, which meant he missed his train. On the grounds of discrimination, the wheelchair user took the matter to the Supreme Court. The ruling was that drivers are not legally obliged to force someone with a stroller to give up the space. A spokesperson for the bus users organisation said that ultimately everyone should have equal access to public transport, which means the designated wheelchair bay is not protected for wheelchair users only. The spokesperson added that, “we would like to see bus designers, manufacturers and operators thinking more creatively about how buses can meet the needs of all passengers.” 

Transport for NSW has a webpage of information for people with mobility aids and for prams, strollers, and buggies. Basically, a pram user is expected to fold the pram and take a seat in the main section of the bus if a wheelchair user or older person boards the bus after them. But have they seen the size of some of prams? Perhaps it is time for a review of bus design as many policy makers and healthy built environment advocates are pushing for us to use public transport more often – they call it “active travel”.

Why can’t all documents be Easy Read?

section of the front cover of willing to work report by human rights commissionIf you haven’t seen what an Easy Read document looks like then the report, Willing to Work Easy Read version by the Human Rights Commission, is an excellent example. It contains all the key information in short sentences that suit a wide audience, including people who do not have English as a first language. It is universally designed. So it begs the question, why aren’t all reports written this way? Unless you really need the fine detail, the Easy Read summary version gives most people all the key information quickly and easily.

Black and white logo for easy read, has a tick and a open bookThe Willing to Work report was launched in May 2016. It was a response to the overwhelming number of discrimination complaints relating to employment for both older people and people with disability. It has some interesting facts and shows how poorly we compare to other developed countries around the world in terms of employment. You can download the full report in both PDF and Word from the Human Rights Commission website.

Cathy Basterfield has more to say about Easy English.  

Universal Design and Reasonable Accommodation

Logo for University of Carlos III Madrid SpainWhat is “reasonableness’ in the concept of reasonable accommodation” when it comes to applying accessibility and universal design? Professor Rafael de Asis Roig discusses this philosophical question in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. He contends that the content of universal accessibility is “constrained by three types of circumstances that could be considered as the bounds for what is necessary, possible and reasonable”.

Australian Human Rights Commission logoFor anyone interested in the debate about reasonableness, and the application of “unjustifiable hardship” rulings by the Australian Human Rights Commission, this article explores reasonableness from different perspectives and concludes,

“Therefore, in accordance with the foregoing, it is possible to have a comprehensive vision about reasonableness in the disability domain. This demand makes it necessary to deem a measure as reasonable in the context of disabilities when:

  • It is justified because it adequately provides for full participation in society.
  • It shall be deemed as possible, taking into account the state of scientific, technical and human diversity knowledge.
  • It shall be deemed as a non-discriminatory differentiation or undifferentiation which is not harmful for physical and moral integrity and at the same time does not prevent from meeting basic needs nor avoids participation in society on an equal basis.
  • It shall be deemed as proportional and, therefore, entails more advantages than sacrifices within the context of human rights.
  • It shall be deemed as acceptable by the community to which it is addressed.”

The article, Reasonableness in the Concept of Reasonable Accommodation, was published in The Age of Human Rights Journal, 6 (June 2016)

An earlier unpublished article tackles the issues of human rights and “unjustifiable hardship” in the Australian context by Schraner, Bringolf and Sidoti which discusses the issues from an economic perspective. Written in 2012, it pre-dates the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Easy English versions of the UNCRPD

Front cover of Enable Easy Read version of the UN ConventionThe United Nations has an Easy Read version on their website, complete with illustrations. The Victorian version is designed for service providers and picks out the key points in a table format. The Enable version is more accessible to people who have difficulty with literacy. These documents make for handy ready reference for everyone without having to work through the UN document itself. You can access all documents through the UN website.

Disability and Development: A handbook

wvaustralia-aiddisability_middleheaderDISABILITY & DEVELOPMENT: How to include persons with disabilities in development cooperation.

Although this manual is aimed at people working on aid programs in developing countries, there are many aspects that could be applied in the Australian context.

The first chapter covers the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the development process supported by the international cooperation. The second chapter relates the collection and analysis of inclusive development appropriate practices based on RIDS members’ experience. The manual ends with a series of recommendations aimed at promoting an effective inclusive development process. The case studies are from many different parts of the world. The manual was published in Italy and translated to English.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have also produced a handbook for Universal Design Principles for Australia’s Aid Program.

Enabling everything: scale, disability and the film The Theory of Everything

This article by Vickie Gauci and Anne-Marie Callus has open access and is free to download.  It discusses access and inclusion from the perspective of Stephen Hawking as portrayed in the recent film, The Theory of Everything.  As Hawking says, “In twenty years, men may be able to live on the Moon. In forty years we may get to Mars. In the next 200 years we may leave the solar system and head for the stars. But meanwhile, we would like to get to the supermarket, the cinema, restaurants.”

Abstract: This article looks at the representation of scale in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, identifying moments that relate to three concerns: firstly, how disabled people experience scale issues at an all too practical level in daily life; secondly, how Hawking’s experience of scale at the level of both body and mind is (a)typical of the way it is experienced by disabled people generally; and, thirdly, how a focus on the film can prompt some rethinking of perspectives both within disability studies and within the conceptualisation of scale more broadly.

 

Stella Young and Insiprational Porn

stella youngIn this entertaining video the late Stella Young talks about how we have been sold a lie about people with disability being ‘inspirational’ for just being themselves. She also argues that people with disability have been objectified in this process as being ‘special’ in some way and not counted as normal everyday people doing everyday jobs in an everyday world. On the topic of a positive attitude Stella says, “No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp.”

Accessibility, UD and ‘reasonable accommodation’

The social model in the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Agustina Palacios’ article in The age of Human Rights Journal takes a human rights and social model of disability perspective. She briefly outlines the preceding models of disability and contrasts these with the social model inherent in the Convention. She then enters a philosophical discussion referencing the Convention and its underlying principles and assumptions, leads on to universality, and then ‘reasonable accommodation’.  

“Taking into consideration all of the foregoing, it could be asserted that accessibility is the ideal situation, universal design would be a previous general strategy to achieve that ideal situation, and reasonable accommodation would be a particular strategy to be put in place when the universal design preventive purposes do not ensure accessibility.”